Playing with Fire: Mixing Politics and Religion



Is Dominica becoming a Theocracy? That is, a government or country governed by promoting a particular religious doctrine?  If not, then why is there this sudden talk about "The Church"! Which church are we talking about? The Constitution of the Commonwealth of Dominica (1978) specifically protects the rights and freedom of all persons including "... the right to observe and practice any religion without the unsolicited intervention of members of any other religion ...".  In the recent Cabinet Expansion in Dominica, why was a 'Ministry of Ecclesiastical Affairs' established? Is the current Labor Administration now in the business of favoring some Religious Beliefs at the expense of others? For example, where do Rastafarianism, Judaism, Bahaism and Islam fit into this 'Ecclesiastical Soup'? Minister notwithstanding, this is a potentially dangerous turn. History is prologue of things to come and, those who are ignorant of history are apt to repeat the mistakes of societies which preceded them.

The purpose here is not to judge any group or individuals commitment to their religious faith.  However, there will be no apology for its intent: to send a warning to those in Dominica who see this admixture of Religion and Politics as a winning formula that, 'they are playing with fire'. Those who play with fire will eventually get burnt as, they tend to get careless after a few successes of averting injury. Historical and contemporary societies are littered with human suffering and catastrophes resulting directly from mixing religion and politics. So why is the current Labor Administration in Dominica embarking on this risky path?

In the last general election, mixing politics and religion worked well for the Labor Party. In fact, this deep-pocketed clearly corrupted entity, with funds from unclear sources, held a large 'free' concert in Dominica in which a Foreign Religious Performer was payed a sizable sum (tens of thousand EC) to promote the Labor Party. The gimmick bore the fruit of victory. Given this success, why not take it a step further?  The Bishop has been bought with XCD $500, 000 to repair the Roseau Cathedral and now serves as cheerleader for the ruling Labor Party Administration. Other religious 'Leaders" are muted or tongue-tied as they should all be advocating against mixing politics and religion. Have they forgotten their role to challenge injustice on behalf the poor, marginalized and down-trodden? Have those leaders forgotten what happened with the Spanish Inquisition,  and more recently Sudan, Nigeria, Lebanon and the long running Arab Israeli conflict?  Mixing religion and politics has been and, continue to be, the basis and rationale for bloody conflicts around the globe. 

Governments that dabble in religion do so for one reason: to gain or maintain power. Likewise, some theologians embrace this path because they envision expansion of follower base and enhancement of political influence. So, what are the dangers? It is two-fold. Government run a great risk of alienating and / or discriminating against certain religious sect(s). In the case of Dominica, this may be another way of perpetuating the  'insiders' versus 'outsiders' groups. Is that a way of getting 'The Church' to side with the 'insiders' and ostracize the 'outsiders'? Or, is that a shrewd way of 'muzzling' religion so that they ignore injustices being perpetuated by the current Administration? This is dangerous territory. In the event that people turn against or change a corrupt oppressive government with whom churches have sided, religion also suffers. When conflicts erupt, religions get caught in the cross-fire. Dominicans need to careful, 'The Church' needs to be careful about this thrust. Mixing religion and politics never ends well!
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